Wednesday, May 23, 2012

There's a Hole in the Middle of the Frog....

It's been a good little while since I have felt the urge to blog.  I started to once last week, but I have been in such an overall funk that I resisted the urge for it to spill over into some depressing diatribe about my lame pony.  Sometimes you need to get it out and vent, and other times you just have to suck it up and make the best of it, so that has been the main reason for my internet silence.

I had the farrier out last week to check out April.  She started building up a little heat in her hoof, and after texting Douglas late at night, he called and talked me through everything to get the whole picture, then rearranged his entire schedule to work me in the next day because he didn't like the sound of things.

Of course I rearranged my schedule to be there.  God love him, he was asking which stall was hers; planning to just go and handle it.  He laughed when I told him this was a learning experience I did NOT plan on missing.  The poor guy needs to block out double-time for my appointments, because he LOVES to teach, and I LOVE to learn, so that usually results in us jaw-jacking for an hour after every visit, but the amount of things I can learn from him is exponential.  I haven't been doing this for long in the grand scheme of things, and feet have always been a big weakness, so it is exciting to be learning so much, even if it is due to an injury.  See?  Another upside.  (I've been looking REALLY hard for those lately!!!!)

So Douglas put the hoof testers on her and got a reaction exactly where we expected it - on the right side of the tip of the frog in the collateral groove - exactly where the abcess had started to come out a few days earlier.  After talking through it, we had hypothesized that the abcess had not fully drained because it didn't get opened up enough, so he started carefully boring it out little by little.  It was a little disappointing, because we were both hoping for a huge dramatic puss pocket to come bursting out, but no such luck.  So we ended there for the day, with a good sized opening for it to hopefully come out, along with a treatment regimen of hot epsom salt soaks and ichthammol packing.

I followed orders precisely.  Ichthammol was the one thing I had not tried yet because it still hadn't arrived from Dover, but Douglas left me a jar to get me started.  He left me with a final direction - if she wasn't better by Monday, we might want to bite the bullet and have the vet out. 

Well, Monday came and went, and I didn't see much progress.  The heat in the hoof seemed to be down, but there wasn't a scrap of progress with the lameness.  So I rearranged my schedule and met Smokey yesterday afternoon.  We had been in contact the last couple weeks and he was well aware of everything that had been going on.  I updated him on the last farrier visit, and he started taking a look at her hoof.

I have to add, by the time he got there I felt almost no heat in the foot, which was a good sign.  He put the hoof testers on her first, and surprisingly didn't get a single reaction, even in the area that had been opened up around the frog.  He used a hoof knife to start removing a little more frog to get a better look, and on the second cut, the loop on the end of the tool stuck underneath the frog.  He pried a little to get a better look, and sure enough, there was a massive hole underneath the exterior frog.

I suppose the good news is the fact that there wasn't a single sign of abcess remaining.  It had to have blown out in the last few days, because the frog did NOT look like that when the farrier was out.  I guess that's the downside to the combination of ichthammol (which looks like MOTOR oil, is gunky as sin, and coats EVERYTHING) and my inexperience in dealing with abcesses, because I didn't even notice it draining over the past few days.  My theory is that it had to have finally blown over the weekend, because there was certainly NOT a hole there before, and looking back, her hoof dressings did stink, I had just been blaming it on the ichthammol.  I know there are some that may flame me after reading that I didn't notice the abcess finally draining, but you know what - everybody has to learn this stuff at some point.  Sometimes the best you can do is absorb every bit of knowledge you can, so that you are prepared for the next go-round.  That's how you become a competent horseperson, instead of someone who can't survive without a trainer, farrier, or vet standing over their shoulder 24/7.  So, if you're judging me, BACK OFF!  :-)

Okay, off my defensive soapbox.  Back to the vet.  After he found the massive hole underneath, he started trimming away all the exterior frog, which was pretty much dead anyway.  Smokey couldn't believe how big the hole was - once again, I have provided him with a bizarre and memorable case.  WHY ME???!!!!

So he went all the way down to the sensitive frog, since everything around it was pretty much dead and detached anyway.  I asked him about a reddish area, and whether it was blood supply or bruising, so he let me squish my finger against it to show me how soft it is, and explained that it was the blood supply I was seeing directly underneath. 

The final verdict at the moment is that we have gotten out all the infection, and are now going to need to deal with toughening up and regrowing the massive amount of frog that is missing.  He left me a jar of a special mixture of 7% iodine, a little formaldehyde, and I think glycerine, which I am supposed to paint on the exposed area once a day.  We are supposed to stop the soaking now that the abcess is gone, and move on to trying to toughen up this area.  I am going to text the vet on Thursday with an update on how she is looking, and we will talk through a couple possible shoeing options, like possibly using a pad to protect the frog area, which we will run by the farrier when he is out on Friday.  Hopefully she will be showing a little improvement by Friday so we can make the leap to one of those options. 

I got up extra early this morning to allow enough time to snap plenty of pictures while I redressed her hoof.  Then I spent a good thirty minutes texting and emailing pictures and updates to the farrier and both trainers to update them on how she is doing.  One thing is for certain - April is a tough broad, and a heck of a good patient.  It doesn't get much easier than dealing with her.  I can squat beside her and lay her leg on my knee (which REALLY saves a lot of back soreness for me!) while I disinfect, treat, and wrap her hoof.  Over the past few appointments of poking, prodding, and boring, she has barely flinched and has been an absolute saint to deal with.  Now, if we can just get the poor girl BETTER!!!!!!!

A pretty good view of the exposed sensitive frog.  It's hard to make out in a picture how dramatic the depth is in terms of how much frog was actually removed!


  1. I just wanted to say I think its GREAT that you are so diligent and careful with your horse's care. It blows my mind when people don't put their egos aside and never ask for help. God forbid you look like a "IDIOT".
    Last time I checked, asking questions and being careful is far from idiotic, and really, I think its awesome you want to learn so much.
    KEEP IT UP! Your horse will love you for it.
    As for the abscess, thank god it drained on its own. What a pain that would have been!

  2. OUCH! Poor girl! I'm glad she's going to be better soon!

  3. Thank you ABS!! I really have no problem looking like an "idiot" - especially when it means I learn something out of it!!! :-)

    Ms April is back in work as of a week ago - WOOHOO!!!